Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said he was moved to post on social media urging Mississippians to get vaccinated for COVID-19 after talking with hospital administrators throughout the state and hearing of their “heroic” efforts battling the coronavirus.
Hosemann recalled traveling to one hospital and hearing about a pregnant woman with COVID-19 on a ventilator. He said the infant was delivered, and doctors are optimistic that both mother and child would be OK. Then at another hospital he heard a similar story, but with the potential for a different outcome — the death of the mother without ever getting to hold the newborn.
“We are the most Christian state, the most giving state money-wise, most welcoming state…yet we are the least vaccinated state” even though with the vaccination “we could protect our families and our citizens,” he told Mississippi Today in an interview on Friday.
Thursday’s social media post wasn’t the first time Hosemann publicly advocated for vaccination. Hosemann, who had the coronavirus in the summer of 2020 and got vaccinated soon after he was eligible, paid for a radio ad that ran in May to honor the work of the Mississippi Guard in responding to the pandemic. In that ad he urged people to get vaccinated as a way to honor the National Guard’s efforts.
As the COVID-19 cases have surged in recent weeks to record numbers, filing hospital beds, Hosemann said he decided to do the social media post this week as another effort to urge people to get vaccinated.
In the video he said medical providers combatting COVID “were all exhausted both physically and financially. This may be the medical community’s finest hour….To determine why this last wave occurred unfortunately we only have to look in the mirror.”
He added, “Please receive the free vaccine. Protect your family, your friends and your fellow Mississippians.”
Hosemann said he and senators have been working on possible solutions for some of the issues facing health care providers. One of the biggest issues is that Mississippi nurses can sign 13-week contracts in other states making as much as $120 per hour. Hosemann said Mississippi hospitals cannot compete with the financial incentive being offered in other parts of the country. He said the Legislature could step in with financial incentives to encourage nurses not to leave the state.
In an earlier session, the Legislature appropriated $10 million to help hospitals add intensive care units and negative pressure rooms to treat COVID-19 patients. He said such a program might need to be revisited.
When asked if he wanted Gov. Tate Reeves to call a special session to address some of those issues. Hosemann said, “I have talked with Speaker (Philip) Gunn. We want to be prepared if the governor does decide to move on this.”
The governor has the sole authority to call a special session.